- Rubik’s Cube is one of the most popular toys of all time – but not everyone can solve it.
- The colourful brain teaser was invented in the 1970s by Erno Rubik.
- Rubik was teaching architecture and design in Hungary when he created the cube to illustrate spatial relationships in 3D to his students – it took him more than a month to solve his own cube.
- In the video above, Rubik explains how the cube works.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: This is the iconic Rubik’s Cube.
A 22-year-old in Australia can solve it in a record 4.22 seconds. Others might spend hours, days, weeks, or even months trying to get all the colours to match up.
So, who do you have to blame for all that frustration?
Erno Rubik: My name is Erno Rubik. I made it.
Narrator: Rubik was teaching architecture and design when he came up with the idea. Rubik: It was 1974, in Hungary, behind the Iron Curtain.
Narrator: And he created the cube as a way to illustrate spatial relationships in 3D to his students.
Rubik: Wake up their creativity, reminding their childhood. Complex things, if you don’t understand them, it seems complicated. If you understand them, and we know how to handle it, it became simple.
Narrator: And how it works is fairly basic. At least, according to Rubik.
Rubik: In my view it’s very simple. There are axises, to turn the axises the faces, it contains 27 different pieces. What you can see is only 26, because there is one in the middle.
Narrator: There are actually 43 quintillion possible combinations. It took Rubik more than a month to solve his own cube.
Rubik: It was, for me, it was important to prove it’s possible. I can’t say that the optimal one, but I was able to manage it and I was able to show it to people.
Narrator: Rubik didn’t consider the cube a toy at first.
Rubik: I’m calling the cube, it’s a piece of art. At the same time it’s an intellectual task as well.
Narrator: It also wasn’t originally called the Rubik’s Cube.
Rubik: I didn’t give that name, the Rubik’s Cube, and I called it Magic Cube because it’s magic.
Narrator: He was eventually able to trademark his name because it was so unique.
Commercial Narrator: There’s never been a puzzle quite like Rubik’s Cube!
Narrator: But early on, it wasn’t easy to get people to think of the cube as a toy that people would want to buy.
Rubik: First for us, it was difficult to find partners at all because they say it does not look like a toy. It’s not a traditional one. And as a puzzle, it’s very difficult. So why people buy something what they are not able to achieve?
Commercial Narrator: Warning! Once you get your hands on Rubik’s Cube, you may never be able to put it down!
Rubik: The market is two-sided. Partly they are keen for something new, and they are afraid about new.
Narrator: The cube was shown at various international toy fairs. Eventually, it was picked up by Ideal Toy Company and toy marketer, Tom Kremer. More than 450 million have been sold since its official launch in 1980. Rubik says he was a bit surprised by its success.
Rubik: The level of it.
Narrator: It’s been featured in numerous films and TV shows.
Marge Simpson: Ooh, a Rubik’s Cube! Let’s all work it together!
Rockhound: Piece of cake.
Narrator: And there are competitions all over the world where people try to solve the cube in seconds.
Rubik: That’s what speed cubers are doing nowadays. So they are practicing hours, and hours, and days, and days, and years, and years.
Narrator: Feliks Zemdegs of Australia set the most recent world record of 4.22 seconds at a competition in May 2018. Later that year, Red Bull held the Rubik’s Cube World Championship. With a prize of $US30,000 and diamond rings for the winners.
You can find guides all over the internet, if you wanna see how it’s done, or try it for yourself.
But the cube is not just fun and games. It’s also being used in classrooms. And it’s still popular, despite the rise of video games and smart phones. Pulling in $US250 million dollars in sales in 2017.
Rubik: The cube is approximately, it’s around the same age as the internet, and in that time we had no personal computers, yet. We had no smartphones, yet, and many other things, so, new generation now probably can’t believe it was possible to exist without this equipment, but it was, I can say.
Commercial Narrator: Sir Isaac Newton unravelled the mysteries of gravity, but could he have unravelled the mysteries of Rubik’s Cube? Three weeks ago, Judge Smith retired to her chambers with Exhibit A: Rubik’s Cube. She hasn’t been seen since!
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